Archive for the ‘Other Food’ Category

Arkie Cheese Steak Sandwich

It’s not on the grill or the smoker, but this time of year (football season) colder weather and not wanting to miss the game occasionally call for other kinds of cooking. Don’t worry, it still involves meat.

This is my variation on the classic cheese steak sandwich, with a few ingredient changes from a traditional Philly.

Traditionally, you use green bell peppers and onions with Swiss or baby Swiss cheese on steak you’ve had a butcher slice razor thin. I’ve used a frozen blend of green, red and yellow bell peppers with onions, added sliced mushrooms, switched to Monterey Jack cheese, (for easier melting) and added Cavender’s Greek seasoning to the meat. That much is made a lot easier (I found all the ingredients at Walmart) and cheaper by using Steakumm, or on this case, a house brand knockoff, than going to a butcher shop.

It also helps, unless you’re cooking for several people, to open the packages of vegetables, mushrooms and meat and transfer them all into freezer bags so you can dole out however much you need and set the rest back. The large iron skillet will hold enough ingredients for about two sandwiches.

Start by cutting a hoagie roll or sub roll from the bakery sandwich style and adding mayo to both sides. Next, in a large cast iron skillet heat about a tablespoon or two of vegetable oil on medium heat, and add the peppers, onions and mushrooms. Stir and turn them until sautéed.

Move them to the side and add one of the frozen shredded steaks. Season the up side with Cavender’s and wait two minutes. Continue stirring the vegetables, then turn the meat over and season the other, now browned side. Wait two more minutes while stirring the vegetables, then turn the meat again and use the spatula to separate the meat and stir it together with the vegetables.

Once all the meat is browned, sprinkle shredded cheese over the mixture until it starts to melt. Fold that over once with the spatula and put it on the roll to serve.

Orange Creamsickle Cake

Even the manliest pitmaster has to have desert now and then. And here in the South, few deserts are more popular in the summer than the orange creamsickle. All the best of orange sherbet and vanilla ice cream put together on a stick and just made for dripping down the hands and chins of grubby little kids on a hot day. Sometimes it’s ice cream encased in a layer of sherbet, sometimes they’re blended together, depending on the brand your mom bought.

Then there’s another classic, the Coca-Cola cake, which in no time at all branched out into the Dr. Pepper cake, the 7-Up cake, and so on.

I figured, why not combine the two? Especially when it’s an incredibly simple recipe. I’ll state at the outset that any flavor of cake mix will do, as well as your choice of soda. But for my purposes, this is what I used.

  • 1 orange flavored cake mix
  • 6 0z. orange soda
  • 6 oz. cream soda

Now that’s the minimum, if you want to keep it simple. Mix those up and follow the baking instructions on the box, leaving out the eggs, oil, water, or whatever it may call for. I, however, added a few other things.

  • 1 Tbs. sour cream
  • 1-1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

As above, mix it all up and bake it in a pan. If you like, you can make a glaze like I did. Fill a glass 2-cup measuring cup about 3/4 full with powdered sugar. Sift it as smooth as you can with a fork to get the clumps out. SLOWLY pour in a very small amount of orange soda. A little goes a long way. No need to measure, just eyeball it. But err on the side of too little and then stir. You can always add more, but it’s near impossible to take it out. When it’s a nice, milky-orange color you’ve got it. It should be pretty thick, too.

Wait until the cake is cool before drizzling the glaze on it. Otherwise it’ll just melt and make your cake all soggy instead of coating the top.

Chicken, Mushrooms And Vegetables

This one is probably a bit healthier than most of the entries here.

Start out with a zucchini squash, a yellow squash, a red onion, grape tomatoes, and bell pepper. I got an assortment of red, green and yellow bell peppers a little smaller than the size of my fist. Slice ’em all up, toss them in a bowl with some olive oil and seasoning before putting them in the grilling basket. For this one I’m using Weber’s Roasted Garlic and Herb seasoning.

Next, I have boneless, skinless chicken breast tenderloins marinading in a bag with some olive oil and the same seasoning before putting them on the foil-covered grill. Chicken sometimes likes to stick, even if you have a clean, oiled grilling surface, so foil and oil make it easier.

While the chicken in over direct heat on low, the vegetables are next to the chicken getting indirect heat. I toss the vegetables whenever I check the chicken. But for now, I’m inside, using the stove and a cast iron skillet (sorry no pics) to saute sliced mushrooms in olive oil with minced garlic and some red onion.

Running back and forth between the two, trying not to burn anything is no fun, so I kept the chicken on a little lower than normal until the mushrooms were done. Then turn it up a little more for the big finish.

Country Style Pork Ribs

For today’s entry, there’s a new piece of equipment. For two upcoming camping trips, I want to be able to smoke something, anything, for dinner one night while we’re there, but all the campsites have are fire pits and those grills that are so wide open and shallow that you can only grill things on them fast and hot like burgers and hot dogs. But whatever goes has to be small and lightweight.

Enter the Brinkmann Smoke’N Grill portable charcoal smoker. I had considered one of the many DIY plans online for smokers using things like a Weber Smoky Joe kettle grill and a 32 qt. steamer pot, or a terra cotta pot and an electric hot plate, but one takes metal fab skills I haven’t used since 8th grade shop class and tools I don’t have and the other requires electricity where you should be at least roughing it a little bit. Not to mention both ended up costing more than the $50 of the Brinkmann because of all the parts and extras you have to buy. So I grabbed the last one The Home Depot had, some Kingsford hickory briquettes, lighter fluid and hickory chunks.

Once I had it out of the box and assembled, I couldn’t wait for the next morning. Kind of like the reverse order of a kid with a Christmas present.

2015-05-30 17.28.03When I smoke meat it’s almost always pork butt. But since this was a new cooker whose personality I hadn’t yet learned, I decided to go with something smaller in case it didn’t come out right. So I settled on a small tray of country style pork ribs. They’re almost entirely deboned, so there’s more meat to one than some others, and already in individual pieces that you don’t have to break apart to fit on the grill surface or peel anything off of. The rub I chose to use this time was from Bud’s Custom Meats in Penngrove, CA, about an hour north of San Francisco. It’s a little sweeter than the Head Country rub I usually use, which is also a little spicier with more garlic and onion flavor.

2015-05-30 13.51.14After getting the charcoal lit, I applied the rub, which didn’t take long enough for the Kingsford to burn down to coals, but who’s in a hurry? There was plenty of time to enjoy the cool breeze of a rainy Arkansas day while visiting with a neighbor, who would be my guest, smoking chicken leg quarters on the lower grill surface. Once they had burned down enough, we added a few small, dry hickory chips at first just to get the smoke started, followed by some chunks that had been soaking for about half an hour. Finally, it was time to add the meat, close the lid and sit back for a 5 hour visit, occasionally stoking the fire adding more charcoal, adding more wood, and refilling a beverage, always careful not to let the smoke stop and keep the temperature in the “Ideal” range on the gauge.

2015-05-30 17.04.41Note to self: shop for inexpensive aftermarket temperature gauge that fits the same hole, but has numbers on it.

The final half hour or so, we removed the water pan to let the meat cook faster and all the way through. That was also the opportunity I took to turn the ribs,  slop some 2015-05-30 17.28.26sauce on them, and turn them again halfway through to get the other side. Nothing like a good cooked-on glaze. My choice this time was Head Country’s hickory flavored sauce.

You can point the finger of blame at me for forgetting to get baked beans when I was at the store the night before, so frozen tater tots were the best available candidate for a side. Leave it to my girlfriend to come up with something to step it up a notch. Some people would be satisfied with salt and/or ketchup.

Others go for cheese tots. She came up with a whole new creation: Ro-Tel (seasoned, diced tomatoes and diced green chilis) and Velveeta. So, is this a new twist on an old favorite that Sonic and other fast food places will eventually offer, “Southwest Cheesy Tots?” Or has moving to Arkansas turned her full redneck? You decide. I’ll say they were really good!

The ribs were a bit on the salty side, but I suspect it was the combination of the rub and the cooked on sauce. One or the other by itself would probably have been fine.

So this time around you not only got my account of smoking ribs, but a long winded story and a bonus recipe!